Motor Racing / Shav Glick : Outlaws Circuit Has Become the World of Kinsers
In sprint car racing, World of Outlaws style, if one Kinser doesn’t get you, another one will.
Steve Kinser, 33, is the nonpareil of the winged-car sprinters with 8 championships in the last 10 seasons, more than $2 million in earnings and the winner of 17 of the last 20 Outlaws races. He is the defending champion in this weekend’s Pacific Coast Nationals at Ascot Park and needs only to qualify in tonight’s preliminaries to clinch his ninth Outlaws title.
Mark Kinser, 25, is Steve’s third cousin and one of his fiercest rivals on the $4-million Outlaws circuit, richest dirt-track racing series in the world. Mark was second to his cousin in last year’s Pacific Coast Nationals and came back last February to upset Steve in the Midwinter Winged Sprint championships at Ascot.
Another cousin, Kelly, is racing on the United States Auto Club circuit and recently won a main event in Granite City, Ill.
Adding to the family stranglehold on the sport is Mark’s father, Karl, who owns and does the mechanical work on the car that Steve drives.
Why doesn’t Mark, instead of cousin Steve, drive for his dad?
“He’s got his hands full running Steve’s car,” Mark said after arriving from his home in Oolitic, Ind., for the weekend races. “They’ve been together 12 years now and nobody else can do what they get done. As for me, I’m happy running for Jim Reid. He’s a diesel distributor from Milpitas (Calif.).
“I don’t think I’d want to run for my dad. I wouldn’t want to fight at breakfast over what happened on the race track Saturday night. We’ve talked about me running for him, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen. I love it the way it is right now.”
What makes Steve Kinser so unbeatable?
“It’s the combination, Steve driving and my dad wrenching,” Mark said. “It’s just one of those things. I don’t think Steve would be nearly as successful driving for someone else, and I don’t think one of the other top drivers could run for my dad and win the way Steve does. It’s just a rare combination.”
Steve has won four straight races in California--at Baylands Raceway in Fremont, Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, King’s Speedway in Hanford and Santa Maria Speedway. Mark won a heat at Santa Maria and finished third in the main event.
Mark has won two Outlaws main events this year, the Midwinter at Ascot and one at historic Williams Grove, Pa. He is fifth in points and has won $156,940. Steve, with 25 main-event victories, has earned $325,880 this season, more than $100,000 more than runner-up Sammy Swindell.
Swindell, who won the Pacific Nationals in 1981 when it was a non-wing race and again in 1985 when it was a winged event, will be back, along with such other Outlaws veterans as Bobby Davis Jr. of Memphis, Dave Blaney of Hartford, Ohio and Jac Haudenschild of Millersburg, Ohio.
“Coming to Ascot twice a year is one of the highlights on the Outlaws schedule,” Mark said. “We run about 120 races a year and that means close to 120 different promoters, and I’d say the Agajanians are definitely in the top four on anybody’s list.”
The Pacific Coast Nationals schedule calls for 20-lap main events tonight and Friday night, with the 30-lap championship race Saturday night carrying first-prize money of $12,000. More than $100,000 will be at stake in the 3-night competition.
Ron Shuman, the California Racing Assn. leader and former Outlaws driver from Tempe, Ariz., will head the regular Ascot contingent against the winged-car visitors.
On Sunday, several of the Outlaws will attempt to take on the local favorites in a Parnelli Jones Firestone/CRA main event, the $15,000 CRA Challenge for non-winged cars.
Outlaw cars have 5x5-foot aerodynamic panels above the driver’s head, while CRA cars do not.
Brad Noffsinger, 2-time CRA champion who gave up his title this year to campaign in the Winston Cup series, will return Sunday for a 1-shot deal in Joe Kasparoff’s car. Haudenschild, who won the CRA Challenge inaugural race 2 years ago, heads the Outlaws entries. Shuman is defending champion.
INDY CARS--Steve Bren, who delayed his racing career to open a car dealership in Newport Beach, will return to competition this weekend in the Champion Spark Plug 300-kilometer Indy car race at Laguna Seca. Bren, 27, took his rookie driver’s test in 1986 at Indianapolis and lapped the Speedway at 203.5 m.p.h., but Laguna Seca will be his first race. He is a 2-time winner of the Super Vee race at Long Beach.
David Kudrave of La Canada, runner-up in the 1987 Super Vee series, will debut in the American Racing Series at Laguna Seca, driving a Buick Wildcat for Frank Arciero. Kudrave, 22, is a student at USC. . . . John Andretti, nephew of Mario Andretti, was left without a ride when car owner Mike Curb decided not to enter the Laguna Seca race.
LAND SPEED--Don Carr, driving the Carr-Kaplan AA fuel lakester, turned in the fastest speed in El Mirage dry lake history last Sunday with 290.979-m.p.h. run over the 1.3-mile course. He broke his record of 288.461 set last month. The SoCal Timing Assn. season ends Nov. 6.
STOCK CARS--With two races left in the $470,000 NASCAR Southwest Tour series, Roman Calczynski of Sepulveda leads Troy Beebe of Modesto by 2 points going into Saturday night’s race at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield. The 200-lap race will be the longest in Southwest Tour history on a track of less than a mile. The season will end Nov. 5 at Phoenix International Raceway. . . . Stockers race Friday night at Ventura Raceway.
Junior Johnson, whose General Motors cars have won 6 Winston Cup championships since 1971, will switch from Chevrolet to a Ford Thunderbird next season. It will be a return to Ford for Johnson, who raced and owned them in the 1960s. Terry Labonte will remain the team driver.
MOTORCYCLES--Winning the world road racing championship apparently stimulates interest in the champion to try 4-wheel racing. Three-time champion Freddie Spencer will make his auto racing debut in the Barber Saab series during the Camel Grand Prix of Southern California Oct. 23 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Reigning world champion Eddie Lawson celebrated his return home after winning the 1988 championship by driving a three-quarter midget in the United States Auto Club series at Ascot Park.
The Dodge Trucks Trans-Cal motocross series will continue Sunday at Perris Raceway. . . . The CMC’s weekly motocross season will continue Friday night at Ascot Park. . . . The California Racing Club will hold the Gremlin Grand Prix for 400 riders Sunday at Glen Helen Park in San Bernardino. . . . Harley-Davidsons will have their day in the sun Sunday when Easy Rider magazine presents its Grand National Cycle Rodeo at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.